Wednesday, September 26, 2012


The Humble Bundle has expanded, as it is wont to do.

Yes, it's added four new games: Jamestown, Gratuitous Space Battles, BIT.TRIP RUNNER, and Wizorb. Which is not so exciting for me, since I own all but one of those games from previous bundles!

The one game is, of course, Wizorb. Now, Wizorb is a Breakout clone. You have a paddle at the bottom of the screen, and there are various bricks scattered around, which you need to break by bouncing a ball off the paddle. (They call it an "orb" and a "wand", but let's be real, it's a ball and a paddle.)

You may be thinking, "But that's basically the same as Breakout, which was a thing way back in the 80s!" Well, obviously, technology has come a long way since then, and instead of white boxes, Wizorb is presented with glorious sprite graphics. It's well-done, too; the animations are smooth and polished and it looks very nice.

Oh, and of course, there are some extra game mechanics. The big one is that there's a "Magic" bar, which fills up when you collect potions. You can spend magic at any time to use special abilities: shoot a fireball, push the ball with a gust of wind, turn the ball into an orb of molten lava that melts through blocks, take manual control over its trajectory and move it around with your mouse, or teleport it to anywhere in the level.

This is a great feature because, as anyone who's played a game like this knows, it can be extremely frustrating to have just a couple bricks left and lots of empty space. The ball bounces around and you can't get it to hit that last brick and finish the level. Ugh! But not in this game, because you can save up your magic and, when the time comes, BANG, shoot a couple fireballs and save yourself the headache. It's further facilitated by a mercy-feature that automatically restores a bit of your magic if you go for too long without hitting any bricks.

There's more. It's sort of an RPG. As you play the levels, you earn coins, which can be spent to restore areas of Tarot Town, a village destroyed in an attack by, uh, whoever the bad guys are.

Doing so rewards you with various things, like keys or shops or whatnot.

There are 12 stages in each area, with a boss fight at the end.

There's nothing revolutionary in Wizorb, but it's well-polished with a strong visual aesthetic, good physics, and a nice powerup system. On top of that, the RPG elements add an extra level of goals and rewards. The result is an exemplary execution of a well-known formula.

I haven't played Arkanoid variants in a long time (unless you count BIT.TRIP BEAT, and I don't), but trying out Wizorb, it's nice to see they can still be as addictive as ever. If you've played something similar, you'll know what to expect and you'll probably already have a good idea of whether you'll enjoy this game. If somehow you haven't, you owe it to yourself, so go find a free Flash or Java variant; Wizorb will be just like that, only better.

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